sal wrote: ↑
Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:42 pm
I'd like to offer a suggestion, at least to some of the newer members.
The world of knives is vast. The doorway in may be smaller, but the cavern that it opens into has a great deal to offer. As you keep an open mind and observe and learn, one finds: differences in steel and the "why", handle materials, ergonomics, mechanical (locks, opening methods, etc.), performance, edge geometries and a host of other courses in knife 101 to PHD studies.
I have observed that when someone is new, at least to this forum (and probably others as well), The emphasis is on "what I like". If it doesn't meet what "I think is right", then it is passed over, sold or whatever. I have also observed that when one has this view, one is not as open to what the designer may have had in mind. The early days of Spyderco were riddled with objection to the "appearance" of our knives, with nary a thought to the "why". In fact, most knives were selected by the "look" and "What I like the looks of". I say; "too much eye and not enough brain"
We've come a long way with the internet, technology, testing, etc.
What I am suggesting is that when you get a new knife, you use it, sharpen it, live with it, a taste of what the designer had in mind, rather than just how a knife looks, or what you think you like. A simple example would be "clip". Do I like clips? Do I like this clip? What did designer think when he created this clip? shape? material? Tip up or down? Why? These are questions best answered after a fair amount of use. You might find that you will like something that you thought you might not?
In other words, open you mind and experience fully the new "thing" in spirit, design, materials, ergonomics, cutting power, ease of carry, deployment, learn "new", get out of your comfort zone. In this way you get more out of the hobby and interest in the world of knives. You also get to converse with the many here already doing the same thing.
I agree with your thoughts here, Sal, but what you are observing is the natural result of the knife-buying market. Gerber, Kershaw, and the other budget-conscious knife makers opened up the public at large to the world of pocket knives (I realize that other fine companies such as yours came before them). So they are the gateway drug to the higher quality and higher priced makers such as Spyderco; they are that "narrow door." When a buyer is paying $20-$50 for a "cool" spring-assisted flipper like the Kershaw Leek, they aren't making their purchasing decision based on fancy blade steels, ergonomics, or clip position; they are basing their spending strictly on looks. Gerber and Kershaw understand this dynamic, so they pump out hundreds of new models and further contribute to the attitude you mention.
But, here is what I view as one of the biggest factors that causes someone to purchase or sell a knife based on looks... it's because for the vast majority of us, all
of these knives will accomplish the cutting tasks that we are most likely to encounter... cutting tape on a box that contains the new knife we just bought from an online retailer. Let's face it, most people with a pocket knife aren't using it to hack their way through a forest, skin a deer, defend themselves against an armed assailant, or any other highly romanticized, but highly unlikely scenario. Most knife owners are using that fancy blade steel to open their mail.
I own more Spydercos than I can count and used to be a numbered collector; I can sharpen a blade until it can whittle hair at even the most obtuse angles, but my usual maintenance task is cleaning off tape adhesive.
Here's the upside for Spyderco, however, each new Kershaw sold is a potential future buyer for Spyderco.
I suspect what sparked your comment along these lines is the Alstair Phillips thread where forum members have posted photos showing off their Kaparas with aftermarket clips. Buyers of the Kapara are not rookie knife owners. I'd wager a good sum of money (if I was a betting man) that this isn't a "first knife" purchase for any of its current owners. As such, these men and women already know what they like and works best for them from a carrying and use perspective (i.e. ergonomics) and have their preferences. It isn't so much that they need to get out of their comfort zone, it's that they have already been there and done that, and now they set up a knife the way they like it straight out of the box. I myself love the Spyderco wire clip and for many years would only purchase a model if it had this feature, but my Kapara has got me looking at aftermarket alternatives, something about the thinness of the scales makes it not feel "right" in my hand.
Customizing a knife is taking the "likes" of a knife designer and making it my own, which is, essentially, what Spyderco does with its own collaboration efforts. The designers (Smock, Phillips, etc.) didn't hand you a prototype and say, "Here make this exactly like it is," they gave you a design, and then Spyderco tweaked it based on their preferences (cost, clip, blade material, factory of choice, etc.). In most cases, these preferences are based on years of experience on what works best. We see this played out in the forthcoming Spyderco Smock. He designed that knife with a clip, clip position, and lock design (free dropping) that differs from the production model. Well, just like Spyderco, I customize a knife based on my years of experience with what works "best" for me.
But, as I said, I agree with your thoughts as it applies to new community members and new knife buyers, but I hope I provided a window into the reasons behind this behavior. (I'm a Pastor so I study people, their motivations, and what makes them tick.)